Digital Minds scans job applicant emails to assess cultural 'fit'

Occurred: May 2019

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A personality assessment product by Finnish company Digital Minds that enabled potential employers to scan the private emails and social media posts of job applicants to determine whether they would be a good fit for their prospective employer sparked concerns about abuse of privacy and confidentiality.

Founded by two psychologists, Digital Minds said it aimed to develop 'third-generation' assessment technology for employee recruitment. However, an investigation by Finnish broadcaster YLE revealed that the Finnish Data Protection Ombudsperson suspected the personality assessment violated the country's Labour Privacy Act, which states that information must be collected with jobseeker consent and that personal emails are protected under the country;s confidentiality laws.

The investigation also found that very few jobseekers had agreed to participate in Digital Mind’s analysis of their social media posts, and only one had agreed to participate in the analysis of email correspondence, suggesting the company's marketing had been misleading. Digital Minds closed shortly after the investigation was published. 

Operator: Digital Minds
Developer: Digital Minds
Country: Finland
Sector: Business/professional services
Purpose: Assess personality
Technology: Behavioural analysis; Facial analysis; Speech recognition
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Privacy
Transparency: Governance; Black box; Marketing